What is the relationship between state power and self-destructive violence as a mode of political resistance? In her book Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (Columbia University Press, 2014), Banu Bargu (Politics, The New School) analyzes the Turkish death fast movement and explores self-inflicted death as a political practice. Amid a global intensification of the “weaponization of life,” Bargu argues for conceptualizing this self-destructive use of the body as a complex political and existential act. In doing so, she theorizes a reconfiguration of sovereignty into biosovereignty and of resistance into necroresistance. To accomplish this, the book innovatively weaves together political and critical theory with ethnography in a way that enables the self-understanding and self-narration of those in and around the death fast movement to speak to canonical thinkers and concepts.
John interviews Abbas Jaffer, Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology at Harvard University on his dissertation project, New Tracks: Digital Publics and Contemporary Music in Pakistan. They talk about how interactions around music and digital media generate publics in Pakistan, how to conceptualize affect and digital affect, the complicated political effects of music production and these digital publics, cyberethnography, the relationship between methodology, theory, and ethics, and more.
In this episode B, John, and guest-host Joanna Tice talk about Politics of Piety by Saba Mahmood (Chapters 1 and 5). Everyone was enthralled with this complex work, and we discuss why in terms of Mahmood’s account of agency as it relates to embodiment, religion, and social conditions, her deep engagement from and learning from the practices of the women in the Egyptian mosque movement she studied, and her engagement and critique of Western feminism for its overemphasis on resistance at the expense of understanding actors and their agential practices.
We also interview Carol Gould (Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at The Graduate Center and Hunter College, CUNY) on her forthcoming book, Interactive Democracy: The Social Roots of Global Justice. Our conversation covers contemporary democracy’s failed promises, social ontology, how to justify human rights, Gould’s new “interactive” conceptualization of democracy, and democratizing education.
Finally, we give advice on dissertation anxiety/writer’s block and on what to do if one’s dissertation distances them from their romantic partner.
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